Op-ed

Required viewing: The Untold History of the US

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” – George Santayana

Filmmaker Oliver Stone created the 12-hour series “The Untold History of the United States” to paint a more accurate picture of U.S. history for the American public. Stone is behind many great films, such as, “Scarface,” “Wall Street,” “Platoon,” “Born on the Fourth of July,” “Heaven & Earth,” “Salvador,” “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” “JFK,” “Natural Born Killers,” and “Nixon and Snowden.” Stone’s films always have a tight relationship with politics as well as history and with “Untold” he takes U.S. history head on.

“Untold” is a scathing take on the U.S. empire which exposes the lies and propaganda behind major events like the Iraq war, 2008 Wall Street Bailouts and more.  “Untold” drastically deviates from agreed upon narratives espoused by the government and reinforced by the media. As a result, Stone expected blowback and researched extensively to avoid any discrepancies.  Stone declared, “This has been fact checked by corporate fact checkers, by our own fact checkers and fact checkers hired by Showtime. It’s been thoroughly vetted these are facts, our interpretation may be different than orthodox, but it definitely holds up.” “Untold”’s narrative is widely recognized by university-based historians.  Stone urges that the real issue is the government’s as well as mainstream media’s control over the prevailing narrative, which alters most people’s perception of  authentic history. In other words, it is not that the history is untold (a quick google search can dig up these facts) but they do not get mainstream attention.  As George Orwell said, “The people will believe what the media tells them they believe”.

“Untold” animates the past using snippets from speeches, interviews, TV and movies to capture the zeitgeist of the time. Clips of Bill O’Reilly calling those who criticize the government during times of war “bad Americans” to push compliance; TV shows like “24” exalting torture and the surveillance state; video games like “Call of Duty” and movies like “Black Hawk Down” all glorify military technology just when the “War on Terror” was kicking into full gear. This media presence isn’t found in conventional textbooks or examined by the media networks; but “Untold” hammers the idea of the interconnectedness of culture and politics home. 

The visuals in “Untold” sear history into your brain. For example, the disgusting images of U.S. soldiers humiliating the prisoners of Abu Ghraib cannot be adequately described using the written word. The tenth episode of “Untold” opens with a speech from Dr. King  which gave me goosebumps. Dr. King said, “a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” MLK called the U.S. out for spending an ungodly amount of money on lethal weapons, when they could have spent the money humanitarian technologies instead. This speech exemplifies “Untold”’s motif of unveiling the fact that the U.S. has consistently lied to go to war.  Lyndon B. Johnson used the false claim that North Vietnam fired torpedoes at the USS Maddox to justify the invasion of Vietnam, H.W. Bush lied about an Iraqi military buildup on the border of Saudi Arabia as well as Iraqi soldiers killing Kuwaiti babies in their incubators to start the Gulf War, W. Bush lied about WMDs to start the Iraq War and Obama lied about how the Iraq War was ended in his statement, “We are leaving behind a sovereign and stable Iraq.” 

 I believe “Untold” to be essential for all Americans to view — I would even go so far as to say it should be a requirement to vote. I can’t express enough how important learning an honest version of our history is.  “Untold” may paint America with a darker brush, but being conscious of the nefarious and manipulative actions of our government is the only way we can come together and prevent future deceptions. “Untold” asks its viewers tough questions.  Has America’s self-love and exceptionalism blinded us to corruption and crime? Has history been re-written to benefit the wealthiest corporations and crooked politicians? Should we continue to trust the media and politicians, who have lied to us again and again?  You may feel bewildered and paralyzed upon learning the extent of criminality in American politics after watching “Untold,” but Stone attempts to leave us hopeful, saying in the final scene, “the history of man is not only one of blood and death, but also one of honor, achievement, kindness and civilization. There is a way forward, by remembering the past.

Chris Cunningham is a third-year communication studies major. CC900349@wcupa.edu

2 Comments

  • This article is a contextless endorsement of KGB and FSB propaganda, which is THE ONLY THING this Putinist revision of history is. The film doesn’t ask any questions, it supposes the talking points of how Putin interperts history in his evil corrupt way. Oliver Stone is a full indoctrinated Putin-ite and never found anything about his purely evil, mafia, murderous, corrupt, illegitamte dictatorship he didn’t like or have an excuse for.
    Remember the Snowden film? Well, it’s a fact that Ed Snowden is a Russian spy who committed espionage against the US Government, our government. The fact that there is even a debate about this indisputable fact demonstrates the damage Oliver Stone’s Kremlin Propaganda has wrought with disinformation, painting an evil Russian Spy as an honest whistleblower and getting Americans to buy that sickening and provable lie.
    The evil Russian Government is destroying all the alliances of the liberal, democratic Western order and after murdering Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006 with a chemical weapon of mass destruction, illegally invaded Ukraine causing a war, committed war crimes by shooting down a passenger airliner killing hundreds of innocent lives there, attempted the assassinations of several British nationals with biological weapons of mass destruction also on English soil. Putin also tried to assassinate the democratic leader of Montenago and stage a coup, as well as undermine NATO, the EU, and all the alliances of democratic nations.
    But forget history, and just believe Oliver Stone, Putin’s biggest fan for no good reason, and his evil Anti-American Kremlin propaganda with zero factual context because he’s well know. That’s thinking for yourself, let me tell you! According to former Dirctor of National Intelligence, James Clapper, the Russians have gotten away with swaying the outcome of the last presidential campaign and are poised to do so again, with their concerted effort with WikiLeaks and Cambridge Analytics and social media blitzkrieg, pushing 70,000 votes in 3 states to give us the Traitor-in-Chief-Son-of-a-Klansman Trump.
    How dare you or anyone parrot pro-Kremlin talking points with less than any critical thinking put into what you write in glamorizing the most Evil Empire the earth has ever seen since WWII while you condemn the USA and equate us with the evil subhuman Russian Government, sir.

    • Putin may be the most evil person in the world. Oliver Stone is a gross monster to. Doesn’t mean the movie didn’t have some good points. I should’ve put that in the article.

      America isn’t even really a country, all our politicians are compromised by sexual blackmail or worse. And we’ve done lots of bad things and manufactured consent for it with Propaganda, that doesn’t mean America is ‘condemned’.

      I agree Snowden just made Putin look good, it is an obvious farce he didn’t reveal anything new.

      Wikileaks on the other hand did reveal some new stuff about Podesta and Hillary, he is also a “controlled opposition agent”.

      I do think for myself and don’t trust anyone I don’t know personally.

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